The new semester is an exciting time. As construction crews renovate campus around us, teachers are busy inside with preparations: Updating the syllabus, planning out class sessions, tweaking what did not work so well last time and imagining how well students will do this time.
points out in his article on the dangers of overpreparing, the most challenging moments in the classroom will be those you cannot anticipate: The concepts you mistakenly thought students would easily grasp, the discussion that veers off topic, the students who seemed on track who fail a big test, the moment of crisis in national politics or world events that you have to take time to address.
While you cannot foresee every difficulty that may arise, you can prepare. You can take stock of your teaching toolkit. Your toolkit is a handful of flexible strategies that you can call into action as the need arises in class. A good tool is simple, versatile, and handy in many situations. Here are a few of our favorite tools we will be oiling up for use this semester: